Manitoba hits 1,000 COVID-19 deaths as it reports 364 new cases

Manitoba reached a grim COVID-19 milestone on Wednesday, hitting a total of 1,000 deaths linked to the illness.

3 new deaths linked to more contagious coronavirus variants, province says

Manitoba has identified more than 43,000 cases of the COVID-19 since the pandemic began last year. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/The Associated Press)

Manitoba reached a grim COVID-19 milestone on Wednesday, hitting a total of 1,000 deaths linked to the illness.

And as the province opened its vaccine eligibility to everyone over 18, the medical lead of Manitoba's vaccine task force urged people to sign up to get their shots.

"We are in a race against the virus, against the variants, and we are seeing the devastating effects it can have on people, on our health-care system and on our health-care providers," Dr. Joss Reimer said at a news conference. 

"The third wave is here and we need to take a seat in the vaccination clinic, roll up our sleeves and protect ourselves and each other."

Manitoba reported three more deaths on Wednesday, all connected to more contagious coronavirus variants.

A woman in her 50s from the Prairie Mountain Health region and a man in his 60s from the Winnipeg health region who died had both been diagnosed with the B117 strain first identified in the U.K., the province said in a news release.

The death of a man in his 70s from the Interlake-Eastern health region was linked to an unspecified variant of concern, the release said.

The province also reported 364 new cases of the illness, just over 60 per cent of them in the Winnipeg health region, which reported 223 more infections.

The rest are split among the Interlake-Eastern health region (50), the Southern Health region (47), the Prairie Mountain Health region (34) and the Northern Health Region (10).

The province also reported 211 newly identified cases of more infectious variants on its online variant dashboard. Those strains now make up roughly 46 per cent of Manitoba's active COVID-19 caseload, with 1,828 of the province's 3,940 active cases.

More than half of the 4,822 variant cases reported in Manitoba have been identified as the B117 variant, which has so far led to 2,614 known cases across the province.

There have also been 36 cases of the P1 variant associated with Brazil, 21 linked to the B1351 strain first identified in South Africa and 2,151 still listed as unspecified on the variant dashboard.

Last week, Manitoba also reported its first four cases of the B1617 variant of interest, which is contributing to India's surging COVID-19 caseload. On Monday, the World Health Organization classified the strain as a global variant of concern.

There are now 221 COVID-19 patients in hospital in Manitoba, up by seven since Tuesday. Sixty-two of those people are in intensive care, up by three.

Manitoba's five-day test positivity rate rose to 12.1 per cent from 12 on Tuesday. In Winnipeg, that rate went up to 14.4 per cent from 14.2.

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at the St. Norbert Personal Care Home, the release said. The province's online outbreaks dashboard says there are two active cases of the illness linked to that care home: one staff member and one resident.

Manitoba has now identified 43,143 COVID-19 cases, including 38,203 people who have been deemed recovered.